What Type of Music Works Best for Snake Charming?

Snake charmers used to be a fixture at markets and festivals in India and other Asian nations in the 20th century, entertaining crowds with their seeming ability to control some of the world's most dangerous reptiles. A turbaned charmer would pretend to hypnotize a snake by playing a flute-like instrument called a pungi or bansuri. The snake would appear to dance in response to the music. But herpetologists say snakes can’t hear sounds in the same frequency range as humans, and that their “dance” was likely a reaction to the movement of the instrument.

Music stops for a tradition:

  • Catching snakes and training them to perform was traditionally passed from father to son in India. For generations, it provided reliable income for many families.

  • The country's snake charmers say wildlife protection laws have contributed to the practice's marked decline.

  • Another reason: “After seeing so many wildlife shows on television, city folk are losing their fear and awe they used to have of snakes," says snake charmer Pitam Nath.

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More Info: National Geographic

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